Tuesday, January 15, 2019


“I take refuge in the Buddha, 
the one who shows me the way in this life.
I take refuge in the Dharma, 
the way of understanding and love.
I take refuge in the Sangha, 
the community that lives in harmony and awareness.”
I take refuge in Jesus, the Christ 
the one who is the way, the truth, and the life
I take refuge in God (the Father)
who is the way of steadfast love 
I take refuge in the Holy Spirit
whose fellowship gives humankind harmony and awareness.

I have been a ‘Christian’ since late winter/early spring 1971, 48 years. During those years I have had more than my share of backsliding, falling away, turning away. I have a vivid memory of asking God to go away and leave me alone to enjoy my sin. He did not. I also spent a fair amount of time reading-sometimes even studying-theBible. I listened to just about every radio guy (they were all guys then), listened to ‘Christian’ music, read ‘Christian’ books, became involved in church-one Presbyterian, one Catholic-battled some serious and not quite so serious addictions. Through it all I have come to a couple conclusions which you all may or may not agree with. Either way, it’s fine. 

First, there is a large body of Christianity out there that firmly believes the Bible is the one and only way God reveals Himself to humanity today. I believe without doubt God reveals Himself through the Scriptures, but....I don’t agree that’s the only way. More on that in a bit. My experience with Scripture has been it’s possible-even relatively easy-to accumulate knowledge about God while successfully maintaining a safe distance from God. The dangers here are pride and intolerance, both of which are in evidence in our churches and on social media. I found inner transformation to be difficult, if not impossible, approaching God in this way. There is also the danger of a lot of really bad, hurtful  theology which may appeal to some but damages many others. Theology, meant to help us understand and lead us to God, becomes a point of division. God Himself gets lost in the debate. 

So, while Scripture study is good-probably even necessary, but I’m not totally convinced-my experience is, if you really want to be transformed, prayer is essential. This may seem to contradict Paul’s teaching in Romans-‘be transformed by the renewing of your mind’-but notice here, he does not offer specifics. I believe renewal comes from time spent in God’s presence, through conversation and meditation. We take refuge in God when we open ourselves to His presence. Once we learn that, we begin to see how He reveals Himself all over the place. And how He is much more open, accepting and tolerant than we could ever imagine (in other words, God loves you. Yes you, and He will relentlessly pursue you-yes you, and ever else-for as long as it takes). I hope to revisit and expand on this theme, and share more of my experiences, in the days and weeks ahead. In the meantime, if you only do one ‘spiritual thing’, let it be prayer. And remember conversation involves talking and listening. 

Excerpt From
Living Buddha, Living Christ 20th Anniversary Edition
Thích Nhất Hạnh & Elaine Pagels

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